tourmaline: total solar eclipse, from a photo by NASA (STS-124)
[personal profile] tourmaline
Today I met real NASA Astronauts! Crewmembers from STS-124, which you may remember me obsessing over when it was in progress.

I had to trek all the way to Bradford (four hours and three trains in each direction) but it was worth it. It was an event held at a local college in Bradford, which is involved in a scheme to encourage kids to study sciences in school and follow science-based careers.

The event was a presentation of a film about the mission, followed by questions and autograph signing. It took place in the college refectory and plentiful food and drink was available for delegates, but I didn't have much - I was too excited to eat! We saw these cars pull up in the car park by the window, and a few people rushed over. I saw Karen Nyberg and Ken Ham get out of the cars, and I was immediately into fangirl-mode, thinking OMG THEY'RE HERE!!!! A little while later they came into the room - Mark Kelly (Commander), Ken Ham (Pilot), Karen Nyberg and Ron Garan (both Mission Specialists). I was sorry to miss Aki Hoshide and Mike Fossum - apparently they were attending something similar at one of the local universities.

We were all there ready for the event to start, when Mark Kelly took the microphone and asked us to wait for them for ten minutes so they could have some lunch, cos they hadn't even had breakfast, never mind lunch, and they'd just been in a rugby stadium with 5000 schoolkids. So, after they'd eaten, he introduced the crewmembers and the presentation got underway with a film of the mission, with all four of them taking the mic to explain different parts of the mission, and various activities, ie launch & ascent, Kibō, the robotic arms, Buzz Lightyear, Garrett Reisman showing off, M&M-eating competitions (remember Homer Simpson eating potato chips in space), washing your hair onboard the shuttle, and landing.

After the presentation and Q&A session it was time for autographs, I got autographs (and handshakes) from all four crewmembers, and told them all how much I loved the NASA TV coverage of the mission (like the squeeing fangirl I am), and I told Ken Ham how I had some of the highlights on my iPod, which he said was "cool". I hung around until one of the organisers yelled "Last five minutes" and then I left the college, dawdling a bit in the hope of catching sight of the crewmembers again - which I did, as they had their photos taken outside the college's main entrance.

Some photos:

Mark Kelly, Ken Ham (hidden), Ron Garan, Karen Nyberg

Ken Ham, Ron Garan, Karen Nyberg

Mark Kelly

Ken Ham, Ron Garan, Karen Nyberg, Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly and Ron Garan with the Lift Off Bradford cars

The crewmembers posing for photos outside the college

I'm so glad I went, this made me so happy I was grinning practically the whole way home. It was so awesome.

Date: 2008-09-11 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, man! That is the coolest thing! Astronauts, for real. That really is cool. The space program rocks my socks, and that's very cool that you got to attend an event like this. =D

Date: 2008-09-11 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
How exciting! I'm so pleased for you that you enjoyed it so much. It's great to see the photos. I particularly like the one with the cars.

Date: 2008-09-12 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I like the cars too.

Date: 2008-09-12 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, wow! That's so awesome! I'm so happy that you got to meet them! =D There are some alumni from my university that are astronauts now. They've come back a couple of times, but I've never had the opportunity to meet them. Scott Carpenter came back a few years ago, and my S.O. got to present his senior project to him, so that was cool. :)


Date: 2008-09-12 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Josh and I just looked at the pics together while we're sitting in a hotel room in Dayton, Ohio.
That is so cool! Thanks for sharing such and exciting event with us. :)

Date: 2008-09-13 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is so badass. Good for you trekking all that way!

My aunt actually used to work for CSA/NASA (she did some engineering stuff on UARS and a few other projects whose names escape me at the moment) so she would always get us lots of NASA-related swag when we were kids. I have a bunch of official project decals stuck on the inside of my lab kit and on the reference monitor I use when I'm DJing.. Makes me feel a *bit* like an astronaut lol